This must be one of the most intriguing session in the history of the British parliament
British Inquiry Is Told Hacking Is Worthy Tool
By SARAH LYALL (NY Times)
LONDON—He admitted that he and his colleagues hacked into people’s phones and paid police officers for tips. He confessed to lurking in unmarked vans outside people’s houses, stealing confidential documents, rifling through celebrity garbage cans and pretending that he was not a journalist pursuing a story but “Brad the teenage rent boy,” propositioning a priest.
After Paul McMullan, a former deputy features editor at Rupert Murdoch’s now-defunct News of the World tabloid, had finished his jaw-droppingly brazen remarks at a judicial inquiry on Tuesday, it was hard to think of any dubious news-gathering technique he had not confessed to, short of pistol-whipping sources for information.Continue Reading
The last days of a dictator are not particularly fun. Hitler committed suicide in 1945 when the Russians were close to his underground bunker in Berlin. Saddam Hussein loved life too much and come out of a hole in the ground when guns had surrounded him. I am not sure about Qaddafi’s attitude toward his own life. Did he remain defiant until the end or were his captors simply more aggressive then the soldiers who found Saddam? Putting the body of a killed dictator in the freezer of a grocery store strikes me as a novel way to preserve it for a few days. People could come and look at the brutal end. Unfortunately, these pictures will not deter other would-be dictators because at the core they are not guided by reason but by delusion.
In His Last Days, Qaddafi Wearied of Fugitive’s Life By KAREEM FAHIM (NY Times)
MISURATA, Libya—After 42 years of absolute power in Libya, Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi spent his last days hovering between defiance and delusion, surviving on rice and pasta his guards scrounged from the emptied civilian houses he moved between every few days, according to a senior security official captured with him.
All eyes are on Washington. I have a hard time believing that in the end the debt ceiling will not be raised but to be honest, I cannot rule it out completely. And if it does not happen, we are in a new world altogether…
Update August 2: Click on more to read background analysis of public analysis that prevented Obama from negotiating a better deal
Congress closing in on a deal to avert US default By JIM ABRAMS, Associated Press
WASHINGTON—The U.S. Senate plunged on Sunday into what many lawmakers and the White House—and millions of Americans coast to coast—hoped would be an all-but-decisive last-minute effort to raise the nation’s debt ceiling and defuse a crisis that still could lead to an unprecedented government default.
As senators began debate in a rare Sunday session—just hours after Saturday night’s concluded—Democratic leader Harry Reid said he was “cautiously optimistic” agreement could be reached.
Other countries, other customs. Arnold Schwarzenegger apparently remarked upon reading this story: “Life is unfair!”
An Islamic faith healer in Nigeria has married 107 women. The wives seem happy, but religious authorities are not amused.
By Robyn Dixon, Los Angeles Times
He fell in love with his first wife because she was sincere and eager to please. His second wife, a cousin, was irresistible because she did everything he wished and nothing he didn’t. “That alone made me love her.” His third wife won him because she submitted to his every request.
“I saw her, I liked her. I went to her parents and asked for her hand in marriage.” Wife No. 4 was very obedient. So was wife No. 5. Wife No. 6, the same. As were wives 7 and 8 and 9 and ...
Well, by then—it was the late 1980s—things had taken off for Bello Maasaba, an Islamic faith healer in this city in Niger state. He went from a wedding every few months to one every few weeks.
Click on photo to start the gallery.
The AP reports on Mubarak’s final hours: Desperate bids to stayContinue Reading
There is often a fine line between a hero and villain. Many people have a hard time realizing: just because people have done a good thing it does not mean that they are nice people. By the same token, just because somebody is nice, it does not mean that they make a positive difference in the world. Life is complicated and people are complex!
By JOHN F. BURNS and RAVI SOMAIYA (NY Times)
LONDON—Julian Assange moves like a hunted man. In a noisy Ethiopian restaurant in London’s rundown Paddington district, he pitches his voice barely above a whisper to foil the Western intelligence agencies he fears. He demands that his dwindling number of loyalists use expensive encrypted cellphones and swaps his own as other men change shirts. He checks into hotels under false names, dyes his hair, sleeps on sofas and floors, and uses cash instead of credit cards, often borrowed from friends.
I had lunch at a Thai Restaurant today. On the front side of her T-shirt, the attractive waitress had a daring message printed. I could not resist asking her: “What does ‘Meaningful Overnight Relationship Wanted’ mean?” She smiles and says innocently: “I don’t know.” This answer left everything open…Continue Reading
I am spoiled. I admit it. But in my defense, I shall say: In the industrialized world most of us are spoiled! We are living in far greater comfort than the kings of the middle ages who lacked modern medicine and ipods. If you don’t believe me, read on this story about the locust epidemics. The Writer’s Almanac reports:
It was on this day in 1875 that the largest recorded swarm of locusts in American history descended upon the Great Plains. An estimated 3.5 trillion locusts made up the swarm. It was about 1,800 miles long and 110 miles wide, ranging from Canada down to Texas.
Swarms would occur once every seven to 12 years, emerging from river valleys in the Rocky Mountains and sweeping east across much of the country. The size of the swarms tended to grow when there was less rain, and in 1873, the American West began to go through one of its driest periods on record.